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Ezekiel the tragedian

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Chapter Summary

At some point between the latter part of the third and the start of the first century B.C.E., a Jewish poet named Ezekiel, most likely from Alexandria, wrote a tragic drama about the exodus of the Jews from Egypt called Exagôgê of which about 20-25% remains. The drama is of importance in at least two respects. First, Ezekiel's Exagôgê, with its extant 269 lines of iambic trimeters, is the most extensive example of the Greek dramatic literature of the Hellenistic period. Second, it is the earliest Jewish play in history, and as such provides important information as how a Hellenized Jew would try to mould biblical material into Greek dramatic forms by means of techniques developed by Greek tragedians. Ezekiel's concern to defend and commend the Jewish faith to a Greek audience may be designed to respond to anti-Jewish sentiments created by the Maccabean wars among Greeks outside Palestine.

Keywords:Alexandria; Egypt; exodus; Ezekiel; Greek tragedians; Hellenistic period; Jewish poet; Palestine



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